Bruno Sammartino and Arnold Schwarzenegger have a friendship that’s lasted for decades. Sammartino is also a wrestling encyclopedia but his knowledge doesn’t just stop there. He was also a huge part of the weight lifting community as a youth and even trained for Olympic weight lifting back in the day.
The Italian-born immigrant went on to create the record of holding the future WWE Championship longer than anyone else at two months short of twelve years according to Bruno. It’s safe to say Bruno’s record isn’t going to be touched anytime soon.
Through his amazing career of holding the record of selling out Madison Square Garden more times than any other person he became friends with another immigrant weight lifter who went on to achieve great things himself. On a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho, Sammartino discussed how he met a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and described their ongoing friendship.
“They were having a Mr Universe contest and Tommy Minichiello, because I had been in the weight lifting game as a weight lifter and all that — he asked me to be a judge and I said: ‘yeah I think I’d like that to see all these great body builders’ and Arnold had come to this competition in the 60’s and I got to meet Arnold.” Sammartino explained. “Actually Arnold was very nice to me. He came over and he says — to this day it’s amazing he speaks with such a [thick accent], I think I lost most of mine. [Arnold] says to me, ‘oh Bruno’ he says, ‘in Austria I used to go by the weight lifting magazine and the wrestling magazines and I used to always — you were everywhere!’ He says — ‘it’s so good’ — he was very nice like a fan almost.”
“I’m anxious to see [Arnold Schwarzenegger] because I had heard about him. Tommy had told me a lot about him and I’d seen pictures of him and thought — ‘wow, this guy!’ Because I knew the old time body builders […] these guys were really great in their day. And Arnold, when I met Arnold and when he posed I was so impressed. I mean the guy looked phenomenal […] And we hit it right off and became friends.”
“Every time I wrestled in California in Los Angeles I would go to Gold’s Gym — the original Joe Gold […] and I used to work out over there and I’d work out with Arnold.” Bruno explained how he used to not only workout with Arnold Schwarzenegger but other greats of bodybuilding’s past. After they worked out the group would go out to eat and Sammartino explained how everyone would then go to the Olympic Auditorium and watch him wrestle that evening.
When Bruno was inducted into the International Sports Hall Of Fame, Arnold was there as well. While Bruno was introduced they said Sammartino was being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame next and Schwarzenegger said he would like to induct him. That goes to show how much Arnold cares because Bruno said he didn’t have the nerve to ask him but The Terminator volunteered to do it.
In the end Sammartino said Arnold Schwarzenegger is the same guy he’s always known and fame hasn’t seemed to change him one bit since their days in the gym preparing for Sammartino’s next big wrestling match and Arnold’s next big body building contest.
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit Talk Is Jericho with a H/T to WrestlingNewsCo for the transcription